Science fiction may be future reality, as flying cars could become a part of our daily lives. Airbus Group, a competitor of Boeing, plans to test a prototype for a self-piloted flying car, as a means of of avoiding gridlock on city roads by the end of 2017, the aerospace group’s chief executive said on Monday.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich, as reported by Reuters. In addition to flying a single-passenger demonstrator by the end of the year. According to Enders, Airbus hopes to have a production aircraft for short flights developed by 2021.
As the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial helicopters, as well as a wide variety of civil and military planes, Airbus seems to be in a very good position to pioneer the development of the self-flying taxi for the future. Still, realizing a production “flying car” by the early 2020s is a rather ambitious goal, especially since the company is committed to making these vehicles 100 percent electric. If we see a prototype fly before the year is out, we’ll start getting ready to hail a sky taxi.
Fortune Magazine also shared the news on Twitter:
— Fortune (@FortuneMagazine) January 16, 2017
Last year, Airbus formed a division called Urban Air Mobility that is exploring concepts such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle that has the capacity to carry multiple passengers. The concept includes booking the vehicle using an app, similar to car-sharing schemes. A spokesman for Airbus declined to say how much the company was investing in urban mobility.
“We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously,” said Enders. He added that Airbus recognized such technologies would have to be clean to avoid further polluting congested cities. According to him, using the skies could also reduce costs for city infrastructure planners. “With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” he reasoned.
Enders said Airbus, as the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters, wanted to invest to make the most of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous driving, to usher in an new era of flying cars.
“If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” he said.
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